When I was a young girl, I looked forward to graduating from school, so I can work and get money of my own so I can buy what I want, when I want. This was when I was in high school. If it were possible for me to skip college, I would have, in order to get to my then destination faster. Alas, that was not to be. It was unheard of in our family that one would consider skipping college. I therefore went through the “process” and graduated. On to the long-awaited opportunity to get a job.
Getting a job, I discovered, to my dismay, turned out not to be an easy process. It required some waiting as well. Propelled forward by my desire to make money and be independent, I pushed ahead, and ended up getting a job. I knew that that was not my desired job, but I told myself that I would just go ahead and take it and build up from there. Then I got stuck. I began to hear terms like, “glass ceiling,” “overqualified”, but I dismissed all that, with the mantra, “a job is a job”. Is it really?
How many of us took on a job, because “a job is a job”, only to first get comfortable, and then get stuck? Many of us women take on jobs that at the time seemed ok, but then, once they began to have children, and the family expanded, it quickly becomes obvious that those jobs do not serve them. Sometimes, we take on the job, not thinking about our happiness, but simply about what seemed right for the family at that time. The problem though is that family outgrows us, but we stay the same, either paralyzed by circumstances, or by the fear to pivot. We tell ourselves, sometimes that the job is paying the bills, but we go in each day reluctantly, and come home with the conviction that this cannot be life. We get up again, the next morning, and repeat the process.
Compounding the problem, is that midcareer professionals are now contending with organizations that do not necessarily appreciate them and their institutional memory. Sometimes, the jobs outgrow them, as they are looked upon as set in their ways, or worse, slow. Women begin to be penalized for taking time off to care for family and are by-passed by opportunities for promotion. The job that seemed to be an okay job, no longer serves them, confirming the feeling that they need to take charge and make a change that brings them happiness and fulfillment,
Are we waiting for something to happen, or are we willing to make something happen? When we start feeling reluctance to go into work or to go to whatever it is we are doing, it is probably time to switch. You may wonder, “how do I switch?” Here are 3 ways you can make a midcareer change:
Mindset: Work on your mindset. Many times, we are sure that we need more, but we talk ourselves out of it because we are unsure that we truly deserve the change our hearts are calling for. For many years, we can move around in circles, stewing in our misery. The thing to do would be for us to acknowledge that we deserve better, even if we do not know how it would come about. That part can be figured out later.
Know What you Want: Once we decide that we need and deserve more, we should then figure out what makes us happy, and what we would like to pivot to. This might require a lot of research. We can talk with people who are doing what we would like to do, or who are where we would like to be, and ask them how they got there. To avoid being stuck a second time, we should explore many career options, so that we can settle on the one that really matches our passion and meets our lifestyle. One of my friends described it as something she would like to do, even if she is not being paid for it. Something that would have you excited to wake up in the morning.
Make Necessary Changes: Once we overcome the mindset challenge, and decide on what we want, the next step would be to figure out what skills and investments are required to get to that place of alignment. It is important to plan properly, and not quit your job until you are sure that the path you are pursuing is the path that would truly fulfill you. Learning does not require being in a classroom, nor does it require a huge investment these days. We can do a lot now virtually, and at our own pace, fueled by our new passion. It would be challenging at times, but it will pay off in the end.
Go For What You Want: Sometimes it would take a while for you to get to reach that place of alignment, but if you stick to it, you will finally get there. It might involve a number of iterations, constant mindset shift, courage, and a sustained belief that you do indeed deserve the change, and have what it takes to make it. Once you reach the place of alignment, it will make all the difference.